Jobs and Kids

I’m taking a brief hiatus from holiday consumerism to write a brief blog post about college kids and jobs. I finished an article last week on the topic. I’m not sure when it will come out, but I’ll puff it here when it does. In the meantime, let me just pass along advice that I picked up when doing the article. This is advice that I’ve been hounding my own college kid about this past week.

The job outlook for college grads isn’t wonderful, especially for kids who have just concentrated on finishing their degrees without much thought beyond getting the BA and for kids who don’t have parents to grease the wheels of the economy with connections.

I spent a few hours doing keyword searches on the online job boards for college BAs with a liberal arts and no experience. Most of the jobs that turned up were Dunder Mifflin type jobs selling random stuff for about $15 per hour. That might be fine. It’s a way to move up in a company. Research shows that most kids with liberal arts degrees start off in sales positions; some move into Human Resources or marketing. But college grads should know what those kinds of jobs are and be aware that that’s where they’re going to end up with a major in History.

30 percent of kids don’t make it past their first year of college. A huge chunk fail out their first year, or they leave because they can’t handle the independence of a school or they hate the chaos of a dorm. I see this among the kids that graduated with Jonah. Some are honor student kids. One had a big running scholarship to a fancy school. College is tough, and many can’t handle it. They end up at community colleges or trade schools. Two of Jonah’s classmates are now selling stocks at Boiler Room-type places.

I’m hearing anecdotal stories about massive student loan debt. Like $100K to $200K. I think those numbers are super high in the Northeast, because working class families around here make too much to qualify for Pell grants. Then they have to go to grad school, because 65 percent of all jobs now require advanced degrees. And they can’t afford that next step, because they owe too much from undergraduate education.

Internships are the new normal for college students. But internships are for rich kids. Kids who have to work in the summer to help pay for college can’t afford to work for free. And many of those internships at the fancy colleges actually cost money, because they are in foreign countries or in other cities. Families who are struggling to just pay for college can’t take on that extra burden.

Colleges have dumped a ton of money into career development centers, which is great, I suppose. Some are better than others. Some offer real help; others hand the students a pamphlet on writing resumes. And only a small percentage of students are going to the centers, because it’s not required.

Guys are choosing very different majors than girls and are having much different outcomes on the job market.

Students, especially the dudes, are choosing large public colleges over small liberal arts colleges. In some ways, this is a good thing. The large public colleges are cheaper and have more resources. But many students can get lost in the system. The kids who survive the big school experience learn how to manage the system. They learn how to tap into the resources. Others get in the bubble of student life and have little contact with adults who can help them.

Alright, done with the brain dump right now. More later.







Inspired by Ocasio

I was prepared to be underwhelmed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m so jaded by all the young, beautiful people on the news that I thought she was one more wrinkle-free person with a teleprompter. But now that we’ve gotten past the election, she’s going strong without makeup and without a typed script.

I like her.

I’m following her on Instagram. Her latest “live story” about how WOC of color have to fight imposter syndrome and not feel like they have to be perfect all the time hit home for me, even though I am not a WOC.

I am not a WOC, but I am a Woman With a Disabled Kid (WWDK) who works from home in a basement office and sometimes makes only about $300 per article. (Sometimes $1,200 per article.) I have to constantly work to keep the school district from locking my kid up in a windowless basement classroom along with the other disabled kids. The other PTA moms sometimes get up in their meetings and announce “how do we keep the special ed families from moving to our town and using up all the school’s money.” (Honestly. No joking.) So sometimes, I’m not feeling my most confident, professional self, and I need to go get a manicure and watch videos like Ocasio’s where she talks policy, while cooking dinner. Because that’s me. I have to make dinner every night.

It is so damn refreshing to see someone combine professionalism with real life. I’ve got a load of whites in the dryer right now. I just changed the sheets on our beds. In a minute, Ian and I will go upstairs, and I’ll make burgers and sweet potatoes and help him with his English homework. I need to finish it all by 7:30, so I can run off to the school board meeting because I want to see a presentation on social emotional learning. Work and life are one big messy mix for me.

If we now are allowed to own housework and homework and work-work, I’m very happy.

Last Night’s Election Results

The Democrats took the House, so why does my twitter, facebooks, and text messages from friends feel like a funeral?

Because there were still a lot of people that voted for Republicans, and some key races were lost. Because Trump is tweeting out triumphant tweets. Trump, the master of the brand, is framing the election as a failure.

But it was a victory and with a Democratic house, there will be a brake on policies that don’t make me happy. Let’s give everyone a chance to recover and get some sleep, and then keep up the good work.

Open thread. Talk away.

How Do You Beat Trump?

A friend just sent me a link to an old article floating around about Kamala Harris and said that he thought that Trump would use it to torpedo her in a 2020 election. I told him that I couldn’t imagine that a little affair and a patronage job would make a dent in the public that has been hardened by recent stories of strippers, a stripper bomber, and a teenage gang rapist. An affair is small potatoes indeed.

Trump is certainly going to go back to his playbook in 2020 and will come up with effective nicknames for each of his opponents. Little Hands Marco. Crooked Hillary. Low Energy Jeb. Those negative brands were extremely successful. He’ll come up with something for each one of his opponents – Booker, Harris, Biden. Warren is already Pocohontas.  Those nicknames don’t need to based on fact or even be all that important. Even if Marco Rubio does indeed have little hands, why the hell should that matter in a politician?

How do you fight someone like Trump, who plays dirty and mean?

Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” is one way to go. That’s my method. And that’s why I sometimes get uncomfortable when rhetoric gets too uncivil on my end. I cringe when I see an 8-year kid with a “Fuck the Patriarchy” sign. But maybe I’m too old.

Also, going after Trump on his middle school taunts has serious drawbacks. Elizabeth Warren looked like an ass, when she tried to rid herself of her nickname.

Does the “going high” method work anymore? When you’re fighting a low life, maybe it’s better to meet him on his turf.

Okay, I’ve nominated you all campaign managers for a Democratic candidate in 2020. What do you advise?

Research Mode on a Monday

I’m in that love affair stage of a new research topic. I like learning new stuff, pulling together an ambitious outline, and then chunking it into manageable steps. I can spend hours just surfing through links on the computer. The topic is spinning away in my head as I go about my day, sucking up brain band width.

At some point, I’ll have the green light from editors and I can start making phone calls. Even that stage is fun. The horrible part is always assembling the mess into a coherent story, but we’re so far away from that stage that I’m not even worrying about it. I’m still in honeymoon land.

So, what’s going on in the world? We have pipe bombs, crazy vans, and a psychopath mowing down grandmas in a synagogue. Far right candidates win elections in Brazil and Italy. I’m not even sure what to write about all that. We live in a despicable world right now. We’re all characters in a Young Adult dystopian novel.

Why are we here? Shabby schools, social isolation, a weak safety net for the mentally ill, workforce transformations, the Internet? I’m not sure and I don’t think anyone knows. And out here, in the real world, I don’t see a lot of people who are terribly concerned. It’s amazing how quickly we’ve become numbed to random acts of violence and death. People are just too busy trying to get through work loads and family responsibilities. With my latest research obsession and an extended family dinner last night, I suppose I’m no different.

But perhaps that’s okay. We can cultivate goodness in our little spheres. We can make sure our kids finish their reading assignments, and that the oldies are given a proper Sunday dinner. Maybe the perfection of a spinach lasagna can provide some cosmic balance to the evil in the rest of the world. Maybe.

Sometimes it feels like I live in a split screen world with the horrors on cable TV on one screen and the day-to-day mundanities and pleasures of the real world on the other. All I can do is vote. And write. That I can do, too.

What’s Going to Happen with White, Suburban Women in the Midterm Elections?

Will white suburban women, angered over the Kavanaugh confirmation, vote with the Democrats this November? Nate Silver has been talking about it. It was a subject of the podcast, The Daily, this week. Dan Drezner wrote about it. Well, this blogger is about as white and suburban and female as it comes, so how about I answer this question?

So, I was completely engrossed in the drama around the Kavanaugh hearing. CNN was on all day long. I was on twitter all day long. And so were all my writer/academic/political friends. Typically, I tweet sparingly and get about 50K impressions per month. In that two-week period, I got over 500K impressions.

During the hearings, I would periodically put my hair up in a messy ponytail and leave the house. I would turn to a local friend and say “CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT’S GOING ON?!!!” and she would be like, “what are you talking about? Let’s talk about the kids’ prom.” Seriously, this made very little dent outside the world of super crazy political people like myself.

And among the handful of local friends who were engaged in the discussion, there were some who were very upset at Kavanaugh and were sure that he was a drunken rapist. And there were some that looked at Christine Ford and thought she was batshit crazy. Seriously. Some made that determination because she has “the skin of an alcoholic”, as one said; others were a couple degrees away from her former high school friends and heard stories.

Sexual assault was a common topic. Pretty much everyone I spoke with said that they had been assaulted when they were in their 20s. These assaults, they said, weren’t nearly-raped-level of assault; it was exposure, grabbing without consent, kissing without consent, gross comments, and minor fooling around when totally loaded and impossible to give consent. Even the Kavanaugh supporters said that this happened to them constantly when they were young and that they were worried about their daughters and nieces, but they also said that they got over those assaults really quickly. It was just a way of life back then, and it certainly didn’t cause anyone to put two front doors on their house. Way worse things happened to them as they got older, like the death of a parent and cancer.

This morning, as I was watching the Today Show and waiting for Ian’s school bus, the ads for local elections were all about taxes. The only reference to women and #MeToo in those came from the Republican opponent to Senator Bob Menendez, because he has a hooker and corruption problem. Sigh. I’m still voting for him anyway, but I’m not happy about it.

I’m not sure that many people are going to switch parties, because of Kavanaugh and other accumulated issues. It might increase voting turnout, but it will even out. Democrats and Republicans were equally fired up over the hearings. Sorry, it’s a bummer of a prediction, but there it is.

Warren in Our Archives

We’re talked a lot about Elizabeth Warren over the years. Here are some links from the archives: